Tara Conklin is one of those authors that has a large cult following. With the success of her novel THE HOUSE GIRL, so many people love her and would eagerly read any of her novels. THE HOUSE GIRL has been recommended to me over and over again, but I just haven’t been moved to pick it up.
It came out at a time when I was working on my Master’s in American History and was knee deep in slave research for one of my papers, so the last thing I wanted to read was anything about slavery or the south or the Civil War.
Then THE HOUSE GIRL got buried under all of my other TBR books and long forgotten. Then her latest book started making appearances on my social media accounts and I was once again struck by how many people rave about her books! I was thrilled when a copy landed on my desk for review—so excited in fact that I made room for it on my review calendar!
When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family and a betrayal that reverberates through time.
It begins in a big yellow house with a funeral, an iron poker, and a brief variation forever known as the Pause: a free and feral summer in a middle-class Connecticut town. Caught between the predictable life they once led and an uncertain future that stretches before them, the Skinner siblings—fierce Renee, sensitive Caroline, golden boy Joe and watchful Fiona—emerge from the Pause staunchly loyal and deeply connected. Two decades later, the siblings find themselves once again confronted with a family crisis that tests the strength of these bonds and forces them to question the life choices they’ve made and ask what, exactly, they will do for love.
A sweeping yet intimate epic about one American family, The Last Romantics is an unforgettable exploration of the ties that bind us together, the responsibilities we embrace and the duties we resent, and how we can lose—and sometimes rescue—the ones we love. A novel that pierces the heart and lingers in the mind, it is also a beautiful meditation on the power of stories—how they navigate us through difficult times, help us understand the past, and point the way toward our future (summary from Goodreads).
So here I was all geared up for another novel about historical fiction and what I had in my hands was a novel very far from that genre. What you have is not another novel about slavery, but one about modern and futuristic family drama. I don’t know why but for some reason I just assumed that this was going to be similar to THE HOUSE GIRL. I was actually thrilled that it wasn’t because I had just finished a book that touched on slavery and I felt like I needed a break from heavier subject matter.
Although what we have here is a book with its own unique subject matter, drama, and heaviness. I love how this book took the lives of four siblings and really brought their relationships and the notion of family to the forefront of the story. This book accomplished a lot of things. It shows the reader how important and screwed up families are in their own ways but also how important love is when it comes to keeping everything together.
I was completely wrapped up in this story from the very beginning. It was heartbreaking and incredibly moving. I was most impressed by the length of time this novel covered. For a novel that was relatively short (380 ish pages), the story spanned decades. I personally love family dramas and I enjoyed this one immensely.
I can see now why so many people rave about Conklin’s writing style. It’s direct and to the point but yet has a ‘saga’ feel to it with a lot of emotion and heavy hitting material. Once I started with this book I couldn’t put it down, I was wrapped up in the story of the Skinner siblings from the get go. If you love family dramas then this one isn’t to be missed.